The Dreaded C-Word

There is one little word that is in such common use across english speaking countries that people seem to have forgotten the power it has over us. This word drips with negativity. It restricts us, suffocates us, and holds us back from achieving our goals. It is one of the worst words you can use in your life. I'm talking about the dreaded c-word. The word is "can't" (or cannot) and it is a disgusting word to use, especially in relation to yourself.

The Negative "Can't" (The positive can!)

The number one reason that using the dreaded c-word is bad for you is what it does to your brain. It shuts it off from even trying to help you.

If you say that you cannot do something then your brain will just agree with you and switch off. The brain is very powerful but ultimately flawed - if it thinks something has already been proven then it wont waste any effort on it and will move on, leaving you to feel assured that you really cannot do whatever you are talking about.

If an opportunity did present itself where you could possibly do whatever it is you've said you cannot, then guess what the brain does? It ignores it, or even worse it creates powerful negative emotions such as fear, anger, and stress to prevent you from even trying.

After all, the brain knows (because you told it) that you can't do it so it's in your best interest for it to prevent you from making a fool of yourself, right?

Sadly, this means that you miss out on all those awesome chances to do something new. You miss out on doing, and achieving, wonderful things simply because you (and your brain) gave up before you even started.

Solution: Replace "I can't..." with "How can I..."

The solution is simple. Get rid of "can't" from your vocabulary. Every time you catch yourself using this word stop and start the sentence again, this time replacing "I'can't..." with "How can I..." to turn it from a negatively limiting statement into a positively stimulating question.


  • "I can't afford to buy a new TV" becomes "How can I afford to buy a new TV?"
  • "I can't get a girl/guy to like me" becomes "How can I get a girl/guy to like me?"
  • "I can't become supreme ruler of the universe" becomes "How can I become supreme ruler of the universe?"

I think you get the idea. Just reading those examples your brain should have "clicked" into gear and started thinking about the options. Ok, so maybe being supreme ruler of the universe isn't for everyone but I bet your brain started actually thinking about it before you could stop yourself.

That's the beauty of this simple trick. By asking your brain to focus on providing answers for how you can rather than providing examples of why you can't you will find yourself opening up to ideas and solutions that would have otherwise been automatically discarded.

Try it yourself. Next time you use the dreaded c-word stop and reframe that negative statement into a positive question. You might be surprised at the answers you get.